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The Continued Push for a Gender Equal World

stem iwd20 

This Sunday, March 8th, marks International Women's Day. Not only does this holiday celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, but also supports a gender equal world. With the first International Women's Day gathering occurring in 1911, this holiday is stronger than ever while gaining strong momentum from countries, groups, and organizations from all over. Even with this increase of awareness, the number of women in STEM roles still is an area where work needs to be done to achieve equality between the genders. 

International Women's Day is a great time to raise awareness of the actions and changes that can be made within the STEM industries to allow for a more conducive space for women to succeed and progress.

Below, several tech leaders have given their thoughts and tips on the current state of STEM for women as well as what more can be done to put us on the path to true equality.

Bob Davis, CMO, Plutora 

"I believe it is important for an organization to be filled with both men and women who are intelligent, creative, and driven. Having a mix of gender in the workplace leads to a variety of viewpoints and ideas that can positively impact a company. An individual's capabilities are determined by who they are, not their gender.

International Women's Day allows us to celebrate women and raise awareness of gender equality for a healthier, wealthier, and more harmonious world. Businesses who want to be successful should strive to cultivate diversity in the workplace. Our differences are what make us stronger."

Sarah Martin, Community Content Developer, Exabeam

"My career began at a major financial services company, where I was a technical writer. In that role, I worked with 13 men who were all at least two decades older. Even if I had known to ask for mentorship - there were no female mentors to be had. It wasn't long before a male boss began asking me to fetch coffee, take meeting notes, and manage his schedule. This was when I began to learn that it was essential to have the awkward and embarrassing conversations where - heart pounding, voice wavering - I held my ground about what I was experiencing. Now, I actively tell other women that they should never be shy about confronting a situation or having a difficult conversation for their own benefit. Without that conversation, the status-quo prevails.

I also feel strongly that feminism has historically failed to support differently-abled women and women of color. It's up to this generation of feminists to address that - women must become allies to each other across the board, without limiting their support to just the women who look like them. When we do this, we inspire and support the younger generation of women who are struggling to find where they fit into the world and their careers."

Yumi Nishiyama, Director of Global Services, Exabeam

"When we talk about being a strong woman in tech, we need to focus on hard work and a solid sense of self, as well as the importance of relationships. Early in my career, I learned that we should surround ourselves with a support system. This International Women's Day, I implore young women to build their network; a great way to do this is by finding a mentor.

The best mentoring moments happen when they are least expected-- so I recommend asking potential mentors questions about work, how they think or situations they've been in. It doesn't have to be formal; it could be a simple conversation. Although it can be daunting to ask an established person to be your mentor, think about how thankful they would be that you perceive them in that light. In the end, it could be a gift to both of you."

Crendal Kear, VP of Global Sales Operations, Exabeam

"While we've made strong strides towards a technology industry with a more prominent representation of women and women's voices, we still have work to do. As we consider the next iteration of technological advancements and the growing share of global economy the industry represents, we must consider the next generation of women leaders in the technology industry. To those future women leaders-be they just starting out, in the throws of their successful career or only beginning to consider the opportunity of the industry-I have a few pieces of advice:

‘Be curious. Stay curious.' More than adopting a growth mindset, indulging your curiosity develops a comfort in asking questions, seeking counsel and getting to the root of the question at hand. These two skills are invaluable to growing your career, serving equally when striving for the next promotion or creating the next groundbreaking innovation in the industry.

‘Choose your leader wisely.' No one rises to the top alone and it's important to have strong advocates. A great challenge for women in tech is a lack of community and a lack of professional support. Choose a leader who values you, will mentor you, will empower your professional development and will challenge you. Look for a leader from whom you can learn and represent your values. Working for a leader who took the time to invest in me professionally and advocate for me -and coming to fully understand the impact and rarity of such a situation-has been invaluable to my career advancement."

Anying Li, Senior Data Scientist, Exabeam

"Living in a world where we are able to leverage everyone's different backgrounds and talents in an equal way is how we can unleash what we can truly do as a society, as it allows us to solve problems in new and creative ways. The data is pretty clear that diversity is not a buzzword; it creates monetary value. The question then becomes how do we encourage diversity, specifically in the technology industry where such a gender gap still exists?

There are two sides to the coin. Technology companies need to have a sense of corporate responsibility about what we do with our resources and use them to encourage more women to enter STEM fields and empower the women that are already in our organizations. We need to actively recruit from colleges and organizations with women (and other underrepresented groups of course!) versus shifting the blame onto technology as a "pipeline" problem. On the other side of the token, women need to advocate for themselves. There's mounting evidence that just speaking up is a significant part of the battle, and we need to remind ourselves to be confident and be loud because we have a lot to contribute to the conversation.

A lot of moving parts need to change for tech culture to change, but nothing can happen in a vacuum. It's not just women being better, it's everyone being better."

Krista Delucchi, Senior Manager, Engineering Program Management, WhiteHat Security

"I believe many women still suffer more openly from feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt - known as imposter syndrome - and that's why it's important to have mentors who can model ways to cope or overcome that. I know for me, seeing fearless women in the workplace who refuse to be treated differently has made it okay for me to advocate for fair treatment in my own career. 

It's also important to understand what it is you are seeking in a mentor relationship. Maybe you need encouragement to advance your career, or someone to inspire you to find and keep your voice, or to advocate for getting you to the next rank. Or maybe you're looking for someone who models the kind of balance you seek in life - say a working mom or a woman who has decided not to have children or a woman who is passionate about volunteerism in her personal life. Whatever it is you're looking for, identify that person and articulate your needs. This gets the conversation started and makes it much easier for your mentor to help you."

Kenia Martinez, application security engineer, WhiteHat Security

"On International Women's Day, it's important to remember to be aware of yourself, and recognize your contributions and those of others. See their strengths and your strengths and work together for a common purpose. We're all working towards a goal and everyone brings special services and traits. Bringing all the needed puzzle pieces together makes the goal more attainable.

It's also vital to ensure that we're listening to each other. If you can provide the correct answers with all the information needed, be assertive. Ask: ‘Are you listening to me?' My previous female manager would ask this question, and I realized this simple question is powerful. We need to make sure people are listening and ready to understand shared knowledge."

Samina Subedar, Vice President of Marketing, StorCentric

"As stated from the International Women's Day committee website, it is important to remember, ‘Equality is not a women's issue, it's a business issue.' Having equality in an organization is an important cause, and one I see as critical for enabling a company to thrive. When you have intelligent people working collectively in an organization, regardless of gender, quality work and endless growth is the result. 

International Women's Day serves a great purpose in celebrating women's achievements, while also promoting equality for all. Individually, we are able to choose to participate in the collective fight against bias, open our minds to various perceptions, all with the common goal to better the world we live in today."

Tina Cessna, VP of Engineering, Backblaze

"I was the only woman in my electronic and computer engineering classes at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, so my advice to young engineers is to never think that you are not good enough or smart enough to learn anything. Just because engineering is a male-dominated industry doesn't mean other women shouldn't just go for it. Don't let the intimidation get to you. Anyone can learn it and it's really fun once you start doing it."

Joy Beland, Senior Cybersecurity Education Director, ConnectWise

"Any time I'm at a cybersecurity conference and I'm training a group of people, I seek out the women in the audience, who are easy to find because there are usually only two or three. I make a beeline for them at the break and connect with them on social media because I would love to learn what they do and how they got into cybersecurity. Every woman I know in this field is that way -- open about making every woman feel welcome. It is so important for women in male-dominated fields like this to support and encourage one another.

"I've also seen there are people in the industry who have identified the value of having women on the team. That includes lots of men who have been very supportive and inclusionary and that's the key. If I walk into a room that has 11 men and I'm the 12th person, it's never daunting to me because I've earned my spot there. But having men who understand how important it is for women to be in that room is essential."

Jacquelyn Ferrari, Senior Software Engineer, ConnectWise

"The key to women flourishing in STEM is positive support from others in the industry. My advice to women is to not be discouraged. If you truly have a passion for addressing the issues around the lack of women in STEM, go for it. I think it's crucial to encourage younger generations, especially women, to pursue their interest in the tech field. I have noticed an increasing trend of women involved as keynote speakers and leaders in our industry, but there's still a disparity in the field as a whole. I hope to see this change in the new decade."

Caroline Seymour, Vice President of Product Marketing, Zerto

"In the U.S., women make up close to 47 percent of the labor force, yet women are outnumbered three to one in tech and four to one when it comes to tech leadership roles. As a tech industry veteran, I know first-hand that this industry has endless opportunities for women, but there is much more that needs to be done to enable women tech leaders and to correct for culture mistakes and injustices. Bringing more girls and women into STEM degree programs and careers is a foundational solution to the problem. I'm encouraged by numbers like those we're seeing out of Europe, where, in 2017, women made up more than a third of scientists and engineers, an increase of more than 28 percent since 2007

I truly believe that if more women knew what I knew about working in the exciting and growing worlds of software, cybersecurity, cloud, AI, Analytics and others, we'd see the tech career gap close even faster and in even more parts of the world. And with more women globally pursuing science and tech through higher education, I'm confident we'll get there. By applying proven techniques like role model programs, early exposure, hands-on and relevant STEM exercises in school as well as an overall focus on female confidence, especially in the teenage years where statistics show confidence in girls tends to drop, we'll go from gradual to rapid when it comes to closing the gap. 

With regards to workplace culture, awareness is key, and then acting on that knowledge is even more important. For example, 43 percent of female tech pros believe their company doesn't invest enough in building women's careers. Does your company? If not, look to make a change. Learn from the likes of AppNexus, Facebook, Cisco and others that have received top marks from women employees. You'll never regret investing in such a high potential yet underutilized talent pool."

Wendy Meyers, Director of Global Operations, Datadobi

"When I began to get involved in tech, many people from my neighborhood and social network put pressure on me to do something that requires less time and effort - specifically, something that would give me the free time they thought I needed to be a traditional wife and mother. But that wasn't for me - I don't want free time, I want to do something that I have a passion for, like technology.

Those experiences taught me that there are many external factors that impact a woman's decision to follow her dreams. I think that if young women are encouraged to explore STEM roles when they are in school, more women would discover a passion for technology and pursue jobs where their skills and passions apply. 

Regardless of what line of work they choose, I implore young women to surround themselves with people who will support them and won't pressure them into a field they aren't interested in. I have always been interested in technology and I know that this is the same for many other women - if I had a more supportive community, my decision would have been even simpler. With early encouragement and a positive support system, women can take the plunge into tech and other related industries and not have to have doubts. They can do what they want because they are driven to, not because they are being pushed in a certain direction."

Nicole Sahin, CEO and Founder, Globalization Partners

"International Women's Day is about celebrating the achievements of women all around the world. There are many female role models that surround and inspire us everyday reminding us of everything that women can achieve. I was lucky to have grown up surrounded by strong female role models: my grandmother was the sixth woman in America to join the Navy during WW2, and my mom owned her own flower shop. Growing up, I never even considered the possibility that I was any less capable than a man, and early in my career, when I found myself the only woman in boardroom discussions, I learned to speak up and be heard. 

Not that I haven't faced challenges along the way. In my late twenties, I had an idea for a business model that would flatten barriers to global expansion. I took it to my former employer and was turned away. However, not letting this deter me, I quit my job and spent over a year travelling to 24 countries to lay the groundwork for what would become Globalization Partners. On return, I set up my business from a single laptop and worked hard to make it the half a million dollar business it is today - and still growing!   

My advice to women: Life brings many hurdles but learning to convert the setbacks into propellent to achieve your goals is the path to success. It's important too that organizations are conscious of what the balance of a team looks like. Creating a diverse, inclusive culture will attract talent of all genders, sexualities, and ethnicities, in turn will result in a more collaborative, creative team. 

Let us not forget, there are great men, as well as women, championing gender equality. By celebrating women's achievements, and the male allies and organizations that support them, we can work towards a better, fairer world."

Donna Cooper, global marketing director, WhereScape

"It's amazing to consider how far women's rights have advanced in the past century. Just over 100 years ago, women weren't able to apply for a credit card or loan, work in a legal profession or even inherit property. Generation X women were the first women in their families to be able to go away to university, or to live on their own, launch a career and have the option to choose to stay home with their children. Despite the change in policies, there is still a fundamental issue that still needs to be addressed - the mindset that women don't belong at the IT table.

The technology field itself does not necessarily need to change. The gender-typical attitude that women have of themselves needs to be the roadblock that is addressed. This is hardly surprising when you consider the thousands of years of training and mentality that needs to be undone. We need to remind women that no matter how they feel, who they are and what unique values they bring to the technology table that they should be treated equally. It's important that women trust their own mechanics when entering a role in the technology field, keep on learning and moving forward."

Joy Ebertz, Sr. Staff Software Engineer, Split Software

"On this International Women's Day, it's important to encourage women - especially those just starting their careers in a STEM field - to speak up about their goals, ambitions and what they want in general. When I was a manager, I wanted to do the best for my team, but I didn't always know what they wanted. It can be scary to speak up, but when women do, it's easier to understand what they need to succeed.

Despite the disproportionate numbers on women in STEM fields, I think it's a great time for women in tech because people are talking about these issues. Companies are thinking more about how to improve the workplace and are more receptive to suggestions. A lot of women in the industry are feeling hopeful that things are getting better."

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Published Friday, March 06, 2020 3:33 PM by David Marshall
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Software.org Leverages Tech to Expand Diversity Effort : @VMblog - (Author's Link) - July 20, 2020 10:33 AM
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